The Flint Area Chapter of The Links, Incorporated is an African-American group comprised of the city’s charitably-minded women. Dedicated to bettering the world through effective community programs, this group has been participating in the non-profit arena since 1979 so that the young generation of Flint residents can grow up and achieve their dreams.
The Links, Incorporated was begun in 1946 in Philadelphia, PA by Sarah Strickland Scott and Margaret Rossell Hawkins. Sarah, who was a teacher in Philadelphia for many years, was a forceful and forthright speaker; she and Margaret were good friends, and they saw the poverty and struggle of blacks in their neighborhoods, particularly the women. Long before the Civil Rights movement, these two women formed an inter-city club that would support African-American women like no other club in their area. They invited seven other friends to participate, and they focused initially on engaging the black community through civic, educational and cultural opportunities. The club gained momentum as each friend invited a friend and by 1949, The Links, led by Sarah Scott, became a national organization with 14 chapters in ten states.
Their growth was explosive. The following year, the number of chapters had grown to 28, spanning the country from coast to coast, and in the June 1953 edition of the Pittsburgh Courier, The Links were recognized as the “fastest growing, most interesting group of black women in the country.” Today, organization is comprised of 276 chapters in 41 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, including the Flint Area Chapter, where Lisa Rogers has presided for the past three years.
“As a little girl, I read about the Links,” Lisa remembers, “and as an adult, I realized that the mission and goals of this group aligned with my own personal desires.” Lisa says that the foundational principles are friendship and community service. “We’re all linked, you might say,” Vice President Reta Stanley said with a wink, “by personal relationships and a desire to change the community.” Community service requirements are written into the organization’s bylaws, and Lisa proudly reports that the Flint Area Links exceeded national expectations in 2013 for community service. “We partner with local agencies and programs to impact areas such as education, health and human services, and youth development,” said charter member Gwen Nesbit, “something we’ve been doing since our inception in 1979.”
The Links began through a desire to serve a historically underserved community. Today, these successful, bright, black women recognize the challenges that others in their community still face, and they are determined to continue the work of the revered women who founded their order 67 years ago. “Our work is personally mirrored by each of our members,” said Lisa. “We try to emulate the women who came before us and be role models to those who will come after us,” Gwen added solemnly.
PHOTOS BY TRACI TURNER
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